Italy survived a hard-fought Euro 2020 semifinal against a resilient Spanish side to win the contest in a penalty shootout.
Italy head coach Roberto Mancini praised his players after surviving a hard-fought semifinal against a resilient Spanish side to win the contest in a tense penalty shootout. Despite the incredible result, he reminded his players that the job is not done and they still have one match left at Euro 2020. Italy took a shock lead against the run of play on Tuesday night through Federico Chiesa, but Alvaro Morata came on as a substitute to level the score towards the end of 90 minutes. With nothing to separate, the match reached the penalty shootout, which was won by the Italians. “We still have one game to go and we want to do exactly that if possible,” Mancini said.
“We knew it was going to be a very tough match because in terms of ball possession, Spain are the best around and they would cause us problems. We had to dig in when we needed to. We tried to score and create opportunities when we needed to, it was a very open match and there were some issues because we didn’t have too much possession.”
Mancini thanked his players for believing in him from the first day and also congratulated the Spanish side, calling them a “wonderful team”. “However, we wanted to make it into the final and we kept trying right until the end. As ever, penalties are a lottery but I really want to take my hat off to Spain, they are a wonderful team. I thank the players because they believed from day one that we could produce something incredible. We haven’t yet done everything we need to, there’s still one step to go and now we have to rest up because this really was very challenging.
“I did say to them before the match that this would be our hardest game of the competition because when you go into your sixth match in such quick succession with all the travelling we’ve had to do, it becomes very tiring. Difficult tasks are all the more enjoyable and we are glad to make it to the final. But we have not achieved anything yet so we will have to wait.”
The coach also praised goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma for playing a starring role in the shootout. “We began practising them [penalties] when we all met up together,” he added. “You can train penalties but ultimately, in match situations when tiredness kicks in, it’s not easy by any means. We took them well and did very well because we’ve got a wonderful goalkeeper who saved a crucial spot-kick.”
Speaking about his experience of being part of a penalty shootout, goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma said, “I was calm before penalties because I knew I could help the team. I’d like to thank everyone, as now we are only one step away from realising our dream. Spain are very strong, but this Italy side has a lot of courage, we never give up.”
“Spain caused us a lot of trouble today with their possession, but I think we deserve to play in the final. I don’t want to talk about the final now, I want to enjoy the moment. We’ll think about it when we have to.”
Italian goal scorer Federico Chiesa was understandably ecstatic with his role in the team’s win. “Yes, without a doubt [the best night of his career]. Playing for my country in matches like these, representing 60 million Italians out there is an unbelievable dream and I never could have imagined it,” he added.